, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 59-67

Expression of an Arabidopsis sodium/proton antiporter gene (AtNHX1) in peanut to improve salt tolerance

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Abstract

Salinity is a major environmental stress that affects agricultural productivity worldwide. One approach to improving salt tolerance in crops is through high expression of the Arabidopsis gene AtNHX1, which encodes a vacuolar sodium/proton antiporter that sequesters excess sodium ion into the large intracellular vacuole. Sequestering cytosolic sodium into the vacuoles of plant cells leads to a low level of sodium in cytosol, which minimizes the sodium toxicity and injury to important enzymes in cytosol. In the meantime, the accumulation of sodium in vacuoles restores the correct osmolarity to the intracellular milieu, which favors water uptake by plant root cells and improves water retention in tissues under soils that are high in salt. To improve the yield and quality of peanut under high salt conditions, AtNHX1 was introduced into peanut plants through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The AtNHX1-expressing peanut plants displayed increased tolerance of salt at levels up to 150 mM NaCl. When compared to wild-type plants, AtNHX1-expressing peanut plants suffered less damage, produced more biomass, contained more chlorophyll, and maintained higher photosynthetic rates under salt conditions. These data indicate that AtNHX1 can be used to enhance salt tolerance in peanut.